A New Hope

Son of Solo

The line, coming in a dramatic moment in The Forces Awakens, is powerful in its brevity and delivery. Han Solo, helping to plant charges which he hopes will give the Resistance an advantage in destroying Starkiller Base, sees the film’s villain Kylo Ren standing alone on a bridge, a bridge which spans a seemingly bottomless chasm. At this point in the film we know that Kylo Ren and Han Solo are related, that Solo is Ren’s father. However, it is not until Solo advances towards the dark-shrouded man that we  suddenly and unexpectedly learn Kylo Ren’s given name. “Ben!!!!”, Solo shouts to get the villains attention, doing so and beginning a conversation which, we also know, ends just as suddenly and unexpectedly when Solo is killed by his tormented offspring.

There are any number of ways one could approach/discuss the events which unfold in this dramatic scene in The Force Awakens. And, I am sure I could provide some well-developed and, I’d like to believe, insightful thoughts on it. But my intentions in this brief conversation far less overarching, and I am much more interested in providing, for now, a small morsel of consideration regarding the moment Han Solo shouts the name Ben.

To begin, when I heard Solo pronounce Kylo Ren’s true name, I was, undoubtedly like many others, struck by the fact that Ben is also the pseudonym used by Obi-Wan Kenobi whilst he lived on Tatooine (Ben Kenobi). Assuredly, this is an indication that Han Solo and Leia Organa named their only child after the famed Jedi Master, perhaps as a way to honor the man who, from a certain point of view, brought the lovers together. Plus, if we backup and consider the countless ways The Force Awakens borrows from/echoes A New Hope, it seems appropriate that the film includes a character named Ben. And yet, that Kylo Ren’s real name is Ben has another equally important and symbolic meaning, one that resonates as loudly as Solo’s voice when the name leaves his mouth.

A Hebrew name originating in the Jewish Tanakh, Benjamin (the anglicized form of Binyamin) is often translated in two distinct ways: “Son of the south” or “Son of the right hand.” Thus, taken alone as a masculine noun, “Ben” quite literally means “Son” and/or “Son of” (Yeshua ben Eleazar ben Sira = Joshua [Jesus] son of Eleazar son of Sira). Ben is used in both given names and surnames of Hebraic origin, although philologists who study Hebrew will be quick to point out that “Ben” is used in a number of other ways as well.

While I would enjoy delving deeper into the nuanced meanings and usage of “Ben” and “Benjamin” in Biblical texts, my reason for noting its usage as a masculine Hebrew noun should be fairly obvious. On the one hand, Han Solo is not just yelling the name “Ben!!!” to get Kylo Ren’s attention, but he is also, quite literally, yelling “Son!!!” On the other hand, we can translate the name Ben Solo as the “Son of Solo.”

I cannot say with any authority that the writer(s)/director of The Force Awakens, when  choosing the given name for Kylo Ren, were aware that the name Ben could be translated as “Son” or “Son of.” While it is likely that the name was chosen to create superficial connection with Ben Kenobi, I am never-the-less left wondering whether Ben was also chosen because of it’s original Hebrew meaning. Still, intentional or not, the meaning in the name Ben is present, rippling outwards as it leaves Han Solo’s lips. With these complimentary meanings in mind – “Ben” = “Son” and “Ben Solo” = “Son of Solo” – the potential for new insights about The Force Awakens may emerge. And if they do, I hope you will share some of those insights with me.

Faith in Something Greater

Speeding down the Death Star trench in his X-Wing Starfighter, pursued by the villain Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker does something unexpected: he turns off his Starfighter’s targeting computer. Rebel leaders question Luke’s decision, asking him if something is wrong, but the young man responds simply and directly. “I’m alright,” he states, no further information provided. Nor could he provide explanation if he wanted, as time is of the essence and the reasoning for his decision, quite frankly, defies reason.

Only moments before turning off the computer, the tension in A New Hope’s climactic battle was amplified by conditions outside of Luke’s control. Leading his compatriots – Wedge Antilles and Biggs Darklighter – “full throttle” into the Death Star trench, the farm boy-turned-Rebel pilot soon finds himself alone. Taking a critical hit to his fighter, Antilles is ordered by Luke to pull out of the trench while Darklighter, a childhood friend whom Luke only just reconnected with, is killed. Already filled with anxiety that the audience and Rebel leaders alike could hear in his voice, Skywalker is now faced with the responsibility of destroying the planet killing Death Star entirely by himself.

Anticipation continuing to mount, the distance to his target seeming to close at an incredibly slow pace, Luke suddenly hears the voice of his recently deceased mentor Obi-Wan (Ben) Kenobi. Speaking from “the beyond,” the old Jedi Master tells the young pilot to “Use the Force.” Confused, Skywalker continues to look through his targeting computer apparatus only to be implored by Kenobi to “let go” and to “trust me.” Finally understanding, he switches off his computer.

TargetingComputer
Luke Skywalker looks through his targeting computer.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

That Luke responds to Kenobi by turning off the computer is unexpected because one would anticipate that defeating the technological monstrosity that is the Death Star should require some form of technological assistance. After all, in order for the Rebel pilots to destroy the Empire’s “ultimate power in the universe” they must travel down a trench and fire their proton torpedoes with precision into an exhaust port that is only two meters wide. In turn, as the climactic battle unfolds, the audience is periodically allowed to witness the targeting system on the Death Star AND the targeting systems on the Rebel fighters, a cinematic maneuver which works to heighten tension. The entire battle is, in a very real sense, a race against time to see which side can be the first to use their technology to target and destroy their enemy, something we are constantly reminded of through A New Hope’s final act.

On this point, it’s worth remembering that Red Leader, commander of the Alliance X-Wing force, and presumably the best X-Wing pilot in the battle, does fire a torpedo shot at the Death Star’s weak spot using his targeting computer. In keeping with the film’s narrative, these torpedoes miss the mark so that Luke could lead his own deadly trench run. And yet, Red Leader’s miss is important for another salient reason: it shows that even relying on available technology does not guarantee success, and if Luke is to be heroic,he will also need to rely on a great deal of luck. Or, something far greater than luck.

Rather than depending upon on his artificially constructed computer to show him the target, or hoping he somehow gets lucky, Luke heeds Kenobi’s words to use the Force, the immanent and mystical energy field that pervades the galaxy. After only a moment of hesitation, Skywalker takes a leap of faith, believing he will succeed by relying on that which, we know, he has only begun to explore. Only days before this moment Skywalker knew absolutely nothing about the Force, nor was he aware of his strong connection to it. Now, at this most critical of moments, when failure is not an option, where the fate of the Rebellion and galaxy rest son his shoulders, the young pilot defies all logic by allowing himself to succumb to the ebb and flow of this mysterious Force. In this unexpected moment, precisely because he gives himself over to something greater than himself – or technology, or reason, or luck – Luke Skywalker takes a giant step forward into a realm of possibility more profound and amazing than he, or even we, could have imagined. And in doing so he becomes the hero he was always destined to be. 

Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia (An Imperial Talker Review)

Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia, co-authored by Tricia Barr, Adam Bray, and Cole Horton, is at one and the same time intensely fascinating and slightly overwhelming. This latest addition to the catalog of Star Wars reference books contains a veritable mountain of images and information broken into five distinct chapters, each chapter having a handful of subsections. The breadth and depth of Star Wars knowledge in this book will certainly keep the more “die-hard” fan occupied for long periods of time, but might also leave the more casual fan feeling somewhat dizzy by the scope of what Star Wars has to offer. Even as a self-proclaimed die-hard fan, I readily admit that I felt a bit overwhelmed at times by all The Visual Encyclopedia has to offer. Still, this was and is hardly a reason not to explore the book. In fact, I encourage Star Wars fans of all types to do so, patiently and methodically working through the book so as to savor the journey to the summit of the Star Wars mountain.

So what exactly does this particular mountain of Star Wars knowledge contain? In the book’s foreword, Dennis Muren (Senior Creative Director, Industrial Light & Magic) notes that, “In this title you’ll see firsthand the thousands of objects that are inspired by our world, but are uniquely Star Wars.” And right he is, as this reference source presents through countless images and bits of information how the galaxy far, far away is derived from concepts and ideas that we are all familiar with on some level. Identifying specific categories of inquiry, the authors, as I already mentioned, organize the the Encyclopedia into five chapters: Geography, Nature, History, Culture, and Science and Technology. In this way, the book’s organization invites readers to begin in a chapter of their own choosing, beginning an exploration based on one’s personal interests in the real-world or Star Wars universe. Of course, one can also start on page one and simply go from page-to-page, but know that this isn’t required to grasp all the Encyclopedia since it is not set-up in narrative form.

Mustafar
Southern and Northern Mustafarians.
Photo Credit – Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia

For me, going through the book page-by-page, skimming through the images and info, gave me my initial bearings before really digging into anything concrete. From there, I worked through the book in non-linear fashion, very slowly jumping to different pages based on momentary interests and personal inquiry. During one reading I found myself enamored by the chapter on Nature, discovering new things about the various creatures and alien-species in Star Wars. I never knew, for example, that two types Mustafarians existed, Southerners being stocky while their Northerner counterparts are tall and thin (see image above). In turn, as I explored the chapter on Culture, I was struck by the vast array of royal outfits that Queen Padmé Amidala of the Naboo wore in The Phantom Menace. Fashion in Star Wars has never been a personal point of interest for me (I don’t do any form of cosplay) but the images of Amidala’s outfits, and the explanation that her “elaborate gowns reflect their [Naboo’s] culture,” left me intrigued and reflecting upon other forms of royal and political attire in Star Wars.

To this point about personal interest, the majority of my time spent in The Visual Encyclopedia thus far has centered on the Science and Technology chapter. Of the five, it is the longest chapter, having the most subsections arranged into categories ranging from binoculars, equipment, and medical technology to blasters, warships, all forms of land vehicles, plus a whole lot more. For the sake of brevity I won’t go into detail about everything I found so fascinating about this chapter, but I will note that I was particularly happy to encounter two specific land vehicles that I have always desired to see more of in Star Wars: the UT-AT “Trident” tank and the AT-OT Walker. While the Encyclopedia only has a picture of these two war machines accompanied by their respective names, it is never-the-less reassuring to know that there are Star Wars writers/authors keeping the lesser known vehicles (among other things) in mind.

The Star Wars universe is exceedingly vast and The Visual Encyclopedia does a nice job of covering a great deal of the expanse, the UT-AT and AT-OT being a clear example of just that. Still, the reference book does have its limitations, hardly a shock since Star Wars is far too great to be encapsulated in only 199 pages. Since the Encyclopedia is rooted primarily to the Star Wars movies and television shows, one will be disappointed if they enter the book hoping to encounter a wealth of information and images from the array of Star Wars novels, comics, and games. Further, the book does contain a handful of notable absences. While he is quoted, and his unique shuttle Delta-class shuttle is depicted, there is no image of Director Orson Krennic, the antagonist in Rogue One. One will find Rogue One protagonist Jyn Erso in the book, but her father Galen Erso, who developed the Death Star’s planet-killing weapon, and her mother Lyra are no where to be found. And speaking of parents, perhaps the most disappointing absence is that Anakin’s mother, Shmi Skywalker, does not receive an image in the Encyclopedia, just another reminder that she continues to be an unfortunate afterthought in the Star Wars canon.

Limitations and curious absences aside, Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia is never-the-less an enjoyable reference book that will leave an interested Star Wars fan occupied for quite a while. Try to take in all it offers in a single sitting and one very well might abandon the effort with feelings of being overwhelmed. But fortified with the patience of a Jedi Master and an eager willingness to savor the journey, and one will surely end up expanding their personal knowledge and understanding of the Star Wars universe.


Thanks to DK Publishing for providing me with an advanced copy of Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia

Ahsoka Tano, Child Soldier

“I’m the new Padawan learner. I’m Ahsoka Tano.”

While I absolutely love Ahsoka Tano and find her an enthralling Star Wars character, I am also torn by the reality that Tano, a child, was a combatant in the Clone Wars. Story-wise this was purposeful, as a juvenile protagonist – a “youngling” as Obi-Wan Kenobi calls her – was needed to draw younger viewers to The Clone Wars film and television series of the same name, giving kids a character that they could easily identify with. Narrative necessity aside, no one can deny that when she arrives on the planet Christophsis in the movie, Ahsoka Tano not only takes her first steps towards becoming a Jedi Knight but also becomes a child soldier.

Admittedly, when I first watched The Clone Wars movie and series I was never bothered by this reality. In all honesty, it never even crossed my mind until recently. So deeply enchanted by the new Star Wars stories being told, so excited to experience the Clone Wars which Obi-Wan first spoke of in A New Hope, it never dawned on me that Ahsoka Tano’s participation in the war was/is egregious. That Jedi Master Yoda would see fit to use the youngling as a courier, carrying an urgent message into the heart of a major battle is alarming, especially considering she is sent without any body armor. That he and the Jedi Order would allow Ahsoka and other Jedi children to be warriors in the conflict is appalling.

Then again, while alarming and appalling, it is not entirely surprising. The Jedi Order – Master Yoda included – was quick to take command of the clone army in Attack of the Clones, an army of genetically bred soldiers who were also, technically speaking, just children. That the ancient Order, committed to using the mystical Force for “knowledge and defense, never for attack” would move so swiftly to militarize is disconcerting, proof that the Jedi were not only imperfect but also flirted with the Dark Side. Sending children into battle, younglings such as Ahsoka Tano and Caleb Dume (himself younger than even Tano) is but another reminder that the Jedi Order in the late days of the Old Republic acted, at times, in morally and ethically repugnant ways.


I am interested to hear what you have to say about Ahsoka Tano as a child soldier, but I would also encourage you to check out the sites below to read more about the plight of child soldiers around the world. 

Child Soldiers International

Human Rights Watch

Amnest International

Children and Armed Conflict
(Be sure to watch the video featuring Star Wars actor Forest Whitaker)

The Audacity of Solo

I’ve been thinking a lot about Han Solo lately. No, not the Han Solo movie that is being made, but the man we first meet in A New Hope. From his first appearance in the Mos Eisley Cantina, Han Solo is established as a cocksure, braggadocious, greedy, self-involved, loner whose only priority in life is himself. After all, from a purely symbolical angle, there is a reason his last name is “Solo” and it is hardly coincidental that a bounty hunter named “Greedo” confronts the Captain. Time and again throughout A New Hope, these qualities are reinforced, Solo’s words and actions proving that his instinct for self-preservation can only be superseded by the desire for a little extra money. As we know, the only reason Solo agrees to help free Princess Leia from the clutches of the Empire is because she is rich. 

I could, of course, go on and list every moment Captain Solo acts self-involved and greedy in A New Hope but I really don’t need to. You’ve all watched the film enough to know that, at his core, Han Solo embodies all of these qualities. But what makes these qualities stand out even more is the backdrop of A New Hope, the overarching story about a small band of Rebels struggling to free the galaxy from tyranny and oppression. From the very start of the movie, we know what these Rebels are up against: a massive, technologically powerful Empire that will stop at nothing to maintain complete control over the galaxy. The juxtaposition between Rebellion and Empire is clear and obvious as A New Hope unfolds, and is made all the more poignant when we see the size of the Empire’s Death Star battle station and its planet destroying capability. 

hansoloanewhope2
Solo, speaking with Luke Skywalker, loads his reward while the Rebels prepare for battle.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

When the narrative-arc of A New Hope finally leads the audience to the Rebel’s hidden base – which the Empire has been  searching for – setting up the battle that will determine the fate of the galaxy, Han Solo wants nothing to do with the Rebels or the mammoth task that awaits. But this is hardly a surprise, he had only ever been in it for the money. In fact, it is fitting that while the Rebels scramble around a hanger, preparing to fight for their survival and for the fate of the galaxy, Han Solo is standing in plain sight with the money he was promised. Approaching Solo, Luke Skywalker implores the smuggler to join the Rebel cause, to lend his skills as a pilot to the fight that is about to begin. Solo’s reply fits his character perfectly:”What good is a reward if you ain’t around to use it? Besides, attacking that battle station is not my idea of courage. It’s more like, suicide.” In a sense, this single line encapsulates the greed and self-preservation of Han Solo, his need to take care of himself. Implored by the hero of the story to join the Rebels, Han Solo flatly rebukes Skywalker, proof that he values himself and his money more than the lives of others, even those he would call friends. 

So, the climactic engagement begins, the Rebel allies fighting against all odds to destroy the Empire’s planet-busting battle station. As one would expect, the Rebels fail time and again to destroy the station, leading to the final “attack run” led by the young Skywalker. A wing-man killed, another abandoning the attack due to damage on his fighter, and his droid partner destroyed, Skywalker finds himself alone as he speeds down a Death Star trench to deliver his payload of torpedoes. Just as Skywalker is about to be destroyed by the villain, Darth Vader, a shot rings out that destroys one of Vader’s own wing-men, a shot fired by Han Solo who comes flying in from above. Solo’s sudden presence disorients Vader’s other wing-man, the pilot slamming into his leader and causing the Dark Lord of the Sith to careen off into space. The path cleared by Solo, the young Skywalker fires the heroic shot that, only moments later, causes the battle station to explode. 

hansoloanewhope3
Han Solo comes to the rescue, guns a blazin’ as he excitedly announces his arrival.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

I have often thought about the fact that Solo – cocksure, braggadocious, greedy, selfish – arrives at just the right moment to help Skywalker defeat the Empire. Narratively it makes perfect sense, just the right amount of tension building until, out of nowhere, the suave smuggler – whom we thought had given up on the Rebels – swoops in to assist the film’s young hero. But what we don’t get in the story is the reason for Han Solo’s change of heart, his internal thoughts about why he puts himself at great risk – something so counter to his life philosophy – to help Luke and the Rebels. Then again, I think it better that Solo’s change of heart not be over-explained. In a way, it is far more powerful to imagine what Han might have been thinking, for each audience member to fill in the gaps for her/himself. 

But what we should not lose sight of in our personal speculating is the reality that in choosing to help Luke and the Rebels, Han Solo acted selflessly. Putting aside his penchant for self-preservation and ignoring the reward he was given, Solo had the audacity to give his life to a cause greater than himself. In doing so, Han Solo became a hero. 

And so, as I think about Han Solo, I cannot help but consider the lesson we can learn from his act of selflessness. After all, as a form of modern-day myth, it is not enough for Star Wars to just entertain us. Rather, as myth, it is necessary for Star Wars to show us how we must live as part of a community and world, as part of something greater than ourselves. And what Han Solo teaches us is exceedingly necessary, especially in our consumer-driven and selfie-obsessed culture. Just as Han has a change of heart – putting his riches and life aside for the sake of others – so too must we do the same in our daily lives when the opportunities arise. We can, each one of us, be a hero, going beyond ourselves to assist our local communities, our nations, and our world. It is not enough to just sit back and enjoy the spoils of life and only look out for ourselves. No, like Han we are called to use our individual skills and join the cause of destroying the “Death Stars” of our time: homelessness, poverty, hunger, oppression, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Antisemitism, warfare, genocide, nuclear proliferation, and more. 

The First Droids

When this month’s Star Wars ComLINKS topic – Favorite Droid – was announced over at Anakin and His Angel, my mind initially went blank…for days. As I thought about the topic, about what droid in Star Wars is my favorite, I just couldn’t come up with an answer. I really wanted to contribute to the topic, to give my two cents on which droid I love the most, but the harder I thought about it, the more difficult it actually became to settle on one.

This difficulty really boiled down to a rather basic dilemma. Basically, I have never given the topic of “favorite droid” much thought before writing this piece. While droids are an indelible part of the Star Wars universe, my personal enjoyment of droids has rarely gone deeper than surface level appreciation. This isn’t to suggest I never engage in any thoughtful contemplation of droids and their role(s) in the canon of Star Wars stories. Nor am I suggesting that I don’t have any especially fond appreciation for individual droids. As a matter of fact, I really love Chopper’s attitude, the absurdity of WAC-47, the adorableness of BB-8, would be thrilled to have my own battalion of battle droids, and am particularly fond of HK-47 and his penchant to”burn holes through meatbags…”  Rather, all I am saying is that I don’t get as excited about droids as other fans of the franchise (check out The Astromech Journal to see what I mean), and because that’s the case, no one droid really stands out above any other.

Nevertheless, there is a caveat: R2-D2 and C-3PO occupy their own, special status in my personal “droidom.” While I could have chosen them as my favorite droids, for me these two transcend the confines of mere favoritism. Artoo and Threepio will always and forever occupy the pinnacle of my fascination with Star Wars droids, a pinnacle that no other droid can ever hope to reach. And the reason for this is obvious; Artoo and Threepio were the first droids we ever met in the franchise, setting the bar high for all other droids  (especially those with independent personalities like BB-8 and Chopper). But there is more to this fascination and love. Brought to life in A New Hope by Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and the late Kenny Baker (R2-D2), these two droid companions are also the very first characters we meet in all of Star Wars, a fact that often feels overshadowed by the endless cacophony of Star Wars stories. For the greater part of A New Hope‘s opening act, Artoo and Threepio drive the film forward, they are the main characters and are, at times, the only “beings” present on screen. Taking us on a journey that begins in space and descends to a desolate, wind and sand-swept planet, the two droids – who add a bit of humor through their bickering –  will only pass off the “main character torch” when they arrive at a lone homestead where a young man named Luke lives with his Aunt and Uncle. And, well, from there you know the rest.

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R2-D2 and C-3PO stranded on a desolate world.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

The first droids we ever meet in Star Wars, the first characters we ever meet in Star Wars. And yet, what truly stands out about Artoo and Threepio, what cemented these two in my heart and mind as a young Star Wars fan, is that until we finally meet Luke Skywalker these two droids are the hope represented in the film’s title. Again, with the cacophony of Star Wars stories in circulation, this is easy to overlook  but necessary to remember. For the better part of A New Hope‘s first act, R2-D2 and C-3PO are the “only hope” for a galaxy terrorized by a galactic empire. While it is obvious that the young Skywalker is the hero of the film, the “new hope” for the galaxy, so too are all those who willingly or unwillingly, consciously or unconsciously, work for the common goal of destroying the Empire’s Death Star. In this way, A New Hope is not a film solely about one young man who will become a hero, but is a collection of individuals – humans, aliens, and yes, even droids – who through their actions radiate a message of hope not only to the galaxy, but more importantly, to you and I. 


This post is part of the Star Wars ComLINKS series. Check out more Star Wars ComLINKS over at Anakin and His Angel.

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Hutt Haiku Poems

I hope you enjoy these Hutt Haiku Poems created by fans of Star Wars/The Imperial Talker and by yours truly! Feel free to email your own Hutt-related haiku if you would like to add to the page!


Damn, Jabba the Hutt
At it again with the tongue
“Bo shuda” he said

That’s Uncle Ziro
Is he Truman Capote?
I think he might be

Submitted by: John S.


Jabba, great crime slug
your best friend is a muppet
crawl on, m’boogie

Submitted by: Derek W.


Jabba no botha
Said the Twilek with red eyes
Luke did not listen

Solo is frozen
A Huttese decoration
His debt is now paid

Submitted by: Cameron C.


Loved Clone Wars, I did,
but nearly ruined, it was,
by Ziro the Hutt.

Submitted by: Brian L.


Eye for an Eye

Submitted by: Andrew (@AndrewinBelfast)


Dearest Mister Hutt,
I have a question for you
…from where do you poo?

Submitted by: Andykin


You were quite surprised
A princess slave seductress
Binded with your doom.

Eat eat eat those frogs. 
Twi’leks are my favorite. 
Pod racing is blah.

Submitted by: Violet


Jabba no bother
Lives thug life like  no other
Eyes like big brother

Submitted by: David M.


THE INCOMPARABLE LAMENTATIONS OF THE LATE ZIRO DESILIJIC TIURE

“Alas! What a fate!
I was sooo misunderstood…
People were unfair.

In spite of praising
My dazzling sense of fashion
They just misjudged me

Me! the devoted
Champion of betterment
Of my fellow Hutts!

They had no idea,
The great unspeakable things
I was able of!…

The horrors…”

SHUT UP spoiled son!
Who are you trying to fool?
Momma is not proud!

Love-sick purple Hutt!
Getting yourself shot like that!
Sy Snootles? Really?!”

(The incomparable answer of his formidable mother)

Submitted by: Léa Yumekawa


Tow’ring Empire
Wide in size and influence
Pizza or Jabba?

Fickle mood, quick rage
Bad news for interpreters
And also smugglers

That Hutt, the Jabba
He likes haiku, do you too?
Otherwise, Sarlacc…

Trap door in the floor
Hungry Rancor needs to eat;
dancer and not pie?

Slipp’ry and slimy
Bad breath behind that big tongue
Who will love that Hutt?

A Hutt’s heart is sad
Keeping the world so distant
Afraid of slug jokes

Submitted by: Michael M.


I chose not to learn
Huttese because I really
wanted a girlfriend.

Does every Hutt burp
like Nashi, creating a
cloud that smells of meat?

Rotta the Huttlet
Kidnapped by Ventress, Rescued
by Sky Guy and Snips

If not much trouble,
Could someone ask Hidalgo
how Hutt lovers mate?

Pedunkee Mufkin,
Rotta the Huttlet, young son
of vile Jabba.

“Righteous are the Hutts!”
“HA!!! Tell that to Kanjiklub
and you will be killed!”

Great Boonta, Hutt god
on high, does our podracer
Classic delight you?

The Hutt-Xim Conflict,
thousands of years in the past;
no longer canon 😦

Does anyone know
how I can get a meeting
with Voras the Hutt?

Thick bogs, greasy rains,
dragonsnake infested world.
Nal Hutta sounds great!

Do Jedi not care
that slavery is thriving
on Hutt controlled worlds?

Slave Leia no more;
Now she is the Huttslayer,
killer of Jabba.

Submitted by: Jeffrey A. Cagle (The Imperial Talker)


Check out these other Hutt Week posts:

The Imperial Talker Presents: Hutt Week

Hutts: Galactic Gangsters

Hutt Week: “Cute” Jabba the Hutt Merchandise (by Jenmarie from Anakin and His Angel)

Jabba the (CGI) Hutt

Why Ziro’s  My Hero (by Andrew – @AndrewinBelfast)

A Man in Debt to a Hutt (by Michael Miller)

The Hutts of Mataou

Hutt Profile: Gardulla

Heir to a Criminal Empire

Hutt Week: A Conclusion

A Man in Debt to a Hutt

Guest Talker: Michael Miller

In the lead up to Hutt Week, Jeff (The Imperial Talker) and I were having a discussion about a Hutt-related issue that has always confused me.  It’s not directly a Hutt thing but it’s certainly Hutt adjacent.  It’s the type of thing I try not to think about, lest it keep me up at night, struggling in vain to find a workable answer.  Try as I might, I can’t.  The question is simple – Why doesn’t Han just pay Jabba what he owes him? 

Jeff’s already discussed the Hutt crime organization this week so there’s no need for me to go back over the whole structure when it’s a handy hyperlink away.  But here’s the basic rundown of the plot that ties Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt, culminating in the first act of Return Of The Jedi.  Han smuggles for Jabba.  Han dumps his shipment at the sign of Imperial cruisers.  Jabba’s (understandably) a little upset about this.  Jabba wants his money…or he wants Han dead.  Han (also understandably) would rather not die.  So he needs some money.

In the original version of A New Hope, Han fries poor Greedo and then gets the hell out of Dodge, with plans to pay Jabba back after his easy charter to Alderaan. In the Special Edition, we see Han and Jabba talk it out first – Han promises Jabba a little more money and Jabba’s fine with it…as long as Han delivers.  And then he skips town for his easy charter.  As fate (of the Force) would have it, there’s nothing easy about the run.  Han Solo and Chewbacca end up in the heart of the rebellion against the Empire, rescuing Princess Leia, and helping Luke Skywalker in the assault against the Death Star.  Victory ensues and medals are awarded…and then we jump to the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back.  The classic exchange on the Hoth Base goes like this:

Han Solo – General, I’ve got to leave.  I can’t stay anymore.
General Rieekan – I’m sorry to hear that.
Han Solo – Well, if I don’t pay off Jabba the Hutt, I’m a dead man.
General Rieekan – A death mark’s not an easy thing to live with.  You’re a good fighter Solo, I hate to lose you.
Han Solo – Thank you, General.

You don’t mess around with the Hutts, especially Jabba.  I get that.  But here’s what troubles me…didn’t Han get a reward for saving Leia?  Didn’t we see Han and Chewie loading several crates of credits on board the Falcon at the end of A New Hope?  Even if Han had given his heart and his soul to the Rebellion (or a certain Princess…), why didn’t he take a short detour to Tatooine to pay off Jabba with the money he had?  The Expanded Universe gave us an answer that involved a gambling problem and some Ocean’s Eleven-style high jinks (thank you Timothy Zahn!) but we all know that’s not canon anymore.  And even if it was, even if Han lost all the money doing something stupid, if he’s such an asset to the Rebellion why wouldn’t they help him with the debt??

The Rebellion, by the very nature of an organization like this, has to have decent cash reserves.  They need to maintain their fleet, bases, equipment, and spy network at the very least.  Why wouldn’t they divert a little money to help Han out, especially if it meant they got to keep Han Solo, Chewbacca, and the fastest ship in the fleet?

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Han didn’t pay Jabba, so Han becomes a wall decoration in Jabba’s palace. Seems fair to me.

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

It should be a very simple equation.  Like I said, you don’t mess with Jabba the Hutt or you die.  Han has messed with Jabba the Hutt and is going to die.  Han does not want to die so he needs money.  Han gets money/the Rebellion has monetary reserves.  Han uses his/the Rebellion’s money to pay off Jabba, thus appeasing the Hutt and preserving his life.  Except it all gets a little wonky…  The equation ends up going, Han doesn’t want to die so he needs money.  Han (and the Rebellion) just wait around until a bounty hunter grabs him. Then Luke, Leia, Chewie, Lando, and the droids (some of the Rebellion’s most important assets) have to devote a lot of side time trying to rescue Han.

This has always vexed me.  And unfortunately, this short little post isn’t going to offer any brilliant insights or observations to get us out of this little funk.  Because, quite frankly, I have none. If you do, there’s a lovely little comment section below.  You’d be doing me a HUGE favor if you can put my mind at ease and explain this.  Lacking any sort of logical answer to this question, I’ve found it best to just not think about it!  Is that avoiding the problem?  Yes, but I’ve plenty of other things to occupy my mind as I try to fall asleep – like what did Han do with all that money?  Does he have a gambling problem?  Oh poor Chewbacca…


Check out these other Hutt Week posts:

The Imperial Talker Presents: Hutt Week

Hutts: Galactic Gangsters

Hutt Week: “Cute” Jabba the Hutt Merchandise (by Jenmarie from Anakin and His Angel)

Jabba the (CGI) Hutt

Why Ziro’s  My Hero (by Andrew – @AndrewinBelfast)

Hutt Haiku Poems

The Hutts of Mataou

Hutt Profile: Gardulla

Heir to a Criminal Empire

Hutt Week: A Conclusion

Jabba the (CGI) Hutt

When I first started this site, I asked people to send me topic ideas for posts. While I had a number of my own ideas, reaching out to my first followers was a way to get them involved and to help me think of new avenues to approach the Star Wars universe. One individual – the same person who asked me to discuss the Sith Rule of Two – suggested that I write a piece that would focus on some of the major changes George Lucas made in the 1997 Special Edition of the Original Trilogy. Long story short, I have never really had a chance to dive into this topic, at least not in any substantive way other than some references/allusions in various posts. 

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Han and ’04 Jabba have a little chat.

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

With it being Hutt Week, I thought it’d be worth discussing one of the most obvious changes Lucas made in the Special Edition of A New Hope. The change came in the form of a scene where Han Solo is confronted by a CGI version of Jabba the Hutt in the docking bay of the Millenium Falcon. While this scene had originally been filmed with Harrison Ford speaking to a human actor who stood in for Jabba, it was ultimately left out of the movie’s theatrical release. Re-inserted after Solo has his confrontation with the bounty hunter Greedo, this scene basically boils down to Jabba and Han discussing the shipment Han had been transporting  for Jabba which the smuggler dumped. Han, the smooth-talker he is, works his way out of a potentially deadly situation by agreeing to pay Jabba a little extra (15%) on top of what he owes the crime lord. Satisfied with the arrangement, the Hutt warns the smuggler that if the money isn’t paid, there will be serious consequences.

For the sake of being entirely on the same page, you can FOLLOW THIS LINK and go watch the scene for yourself.

Now, when the Special Edition of A New Hope was released in 1997, I really didn’t think much of this scene featuring a CGI Jabba, at least not in any critical way. I was in 6th grade at the time and the chance to see the films on the big screen was a treat, an experience I had never had before. Besides, this scene involving Jabba speaking with Han was completely new, something that was not in the previous version of A New Hope I had grown up watching. In every sense of the word, this scene and these remastered films were truly “Special” to my younger self, and because of that youthful sentiment, I will always have a place in my heart for them.

However, while the Special Edition were a formative part of my childhood experience of Star Wars, this shouldn’t be taken to mean that today I believe they are flawless. In my opinion, they aren’t. While I can and do appreciate that George Lucas wanted to “reinvent” his films using graphic/visual effects unavailable to him when he first released the movies, and while some of these changes are truly magnificent, this hardly means that I believe everything that was added/changed was executed to perfection…which brings me back to our CGI crime lord.

 Jabba’s CGI variant in the ’97 Special Edition of A New Hope isn’t just poor, it’s atrocious. As a kid, I probably knew this and didn’t really care, but now that I am older, it is clear as day that Jabba looks ABSOLUTELY. FLIPPING. AWWWWWFUL. One need only look at the CGI ’97 Jabba next to the original Jabba from Return of the Jedi to see just how starkly different the two look. Oh wait, I put the images next to one another for you, so here they are…

Side-By-Side
Original Jabba (left); ’97 Jabba (right)

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope & Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

…like I said, awwwwwwwful. To be fair, there ARE similarities between the two, but the differences are so great it really makes you wonder – why was George Lucas okay with such a poor rendering of Jabba? Then again, I think this is a slightly unfair question. While I might not personally like this CGI variation of Jabba today, Lucas obviously saw value in the way the Hutt looked and was fine with it. However, before this turn into a full-fledged debate about who “owns” a piece of art – creator or consumer – it is worth noting that at some point after 1997, Lucas decided the CGI Jabba needed a tune-up. 

Actually, tune-up might not be the appropriate term. When A New Hope was released for the first time on DVD in 2004 (another Special Edition), Jabba the Hutt was completely recreated using CGI. The monstrosity from seven years before was completely erased from the Star Wars canon. This updated version of the Hutt was not only far superior in quality than its 1997 predecessor, much closer in likeness to the original Jabba in Return of the Jedi, but it also has a closer resemblance to the CGI Jabba that appears in The Phantom Menace. As you might be aware, this ’04 Jabba is also the one you will find in A New Hope to this day. While I do think this version remains imperfect – it has some odd, cartoonesque expressions – it’s at least a rendition that I can accept and actually believe to be the infamous crime lord. That ’97 version, not so much. My youthful self may not have cared about the way Jabba looked, but the adult me would have a hard time watching A New Hope if that eye sore still appeared on screen.

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Jabba at the Boonta Eve Classic.

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Any way, for what it is worth, I do really like the CGI version of Jabba in The Phantom Menace. I’ve always enjoyed his brief appearance as the host of the Boonta Eve Classic, feeling that it was an appropriate way of fitting him into the Prequel Trilogy. Besides, as an added bonus, The Phantom Menace also gave us ANOTHER Hutt on the big screen, something I was definitely not expecting when I saw it the movie for the first time. Hmmmm, who knows, perhaps I will discuss this mystery Hutt in another post.

But I digress. I am curious to hear what you think about Jabba the CGI Hutt. I would enjoy knowing what YOU think about the ’97 and 2004 depictions of the notorious gangster, as well as other changes made in the (numerous) Special Editions. Leave a comment below (and don’t be afraid to disagree with me if you still enjoy the ’97 Jabba)!


Check out these other Hutt Week posts:

The Imperial Talker Presents: Hutt Week

Hutts: Galactic Gangsters

Hutt Week: “Cute” Jabba the Hutt Merchandise (by Jenmarie from Anakin and His Angel)

Why Ziro’s  My Hero (by Andrew – @AndrewinBelfast)

A Man in Debt to a Hutt (by Michael Miller)

Hutt Haiku Poems

The Hutts of Mataou

Hutt Profile: Gardulla

Heir to a Criminal Empire

Hutt Week: A Conclusion

Hutts: Galactic Gangsters

Captain Panaka says it best in The Phantom Menance: “the Hutts are gangsters.” Dominating the Star Wars underworld through organized crime, the slug-like Hutts are a force to be reckoned with, their power and wealth coming from a conceivably endless list of illegal activities – slavery, gambling, racing, arms dealing, racketeering and extortion, smuggling, gladiator matches and blood sports, violence, and murder. Controlling large swaths the Outer Rim – from Tatooine and Mataou to the Hutt homeworld of Nal Hutta and it’s moon Nar Shadda – their collective influence seeps into the hidden corners of the galaxy while also making its way to the seats of galactic power in the Old Republic and Galactic Empire. In every imaginable way, the Hutts live up to the moniker “gangster,” their criminal dealings and nefarious presence always lurking in the shadows. And out of all the Hutts in the Star Wars universe, the one who lives up to the term gangster better than all the others is incredibly obvious. It is Marlo the Hutt.

You thought I was gonna say Jabba the Hutt, right? Well yeah, of course the answer is Jabba, but I will get to him in a second because Marlo the Hutt is worth discussing.

Marlo_the_Hutt
Marlo the Hutt

Photo Credit – Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 3, Episode 9 – “Hunt for Ziro”

Introduced in Season 3 of The Clone Wars, in the episode “Evil Plans,” Marlo the Hutt was/is a member of the Hutt Council (I’ll discuss the council momentarily). Appearing as a hologram, Marlo is present for a handful of seconds and only listens while other members of the Council discuss important matters. However, at the outset of the very next episode, “Hunt for Ziro,” Marlo appears once again, and this time we do hear from him. Seeing him more clearly, able now to listen to his voice, it becomes very very VERY apparent that Marlo the Hutt was based on Vito Corleone.

Vito Corleone, the Don who heads the Corleone crime family in what is undoubtedly one of the greatest (gangster) films of all time – The Godfather. Like Corleone, Marlo has the puffy cheeks, a thin “mustache” created by marks on his upper lip, slick looking “hair,”  and a wrinkled forehead. Marlo also speaks with a low, raspy form of Huttese similar to the low, raspy English of Don Corleone in The Godfather. Moreover,  Marlo the Hutt – whose name is not mentioned in  “Hunt for Ziro” but does appear in the credits – is clearly named in honor of Marlon Brando, the legendary actor who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Vito Corleone.

In turn, the inclusion of Marlo the Hutt in “Evil Plans” and “Hunt for Ziro” is appropriate since these back-to-back episodes of The Clone Wars are where we are first introduced to the aforementioned Hutt Council. This Council, a body comprised of the five Hutts who control the five major Hutt families, governs the collective criminal activities of the entire Hutt Clan, the crime syndicate to which these families belong. Just as Marlo is a nod to Don Corleone, the Hutt Clan is a clear nod to the Five Families in The Godfather (which were themselves based on the real-life Five Families of the Italian American Mafia), while the Hutt Council was obviously based on the Commission, the ruling body consisting of the heads of these Five Families.

don-corleone
Don Vito Corleone (portrayed by Marlon Brando)

Photo Credit – The Godfather

As someone who absolutely loves The Godfather, I think it is pretty damn cool that the show runners of The Clone Wars chose to make these connections with the iconic film. These connections, at least for me, added a new, dynamic depth to the Hutts, a layer of rich complexity to their criminal enterprise that had not previously existed. That said, for those who have never seen The Godfather, it is at this point that I would encourage you to check it out. Even if one is completely uninterested in all the ways the Hutts are akin to the Five Families or the Corleones, The Godfather is just too damn good not to watch for it’s own sake.

That said, whether you have seen the film, need to watch it, or just don’t want to watch it, I need to clarify something before we move on. In short, while Marlo the Hutt was obviously created as an homage to Marlon Brandon’s iconic character, Marlo is not the real Don Corleone of Star Wars. Heck, Marlo isn’t even the leader of the Hutt Council – but I bet you already knew that. The leader of the Hutt Council, the real “godfather” in Star Wars, is the none other than the illustrious Jabba the Hutt, so let’s turn our attention to him.

The Original Gangster: Jabba the Hutt

There is something incredibly special about the way Jabba was first introduced in Star Wars – indirectly, through conversation. Han Solo, whom we just met at the Mos Eisley Cantina in A New Hope, gets up to leave and is immediately stopped by the bounty hunter Greedo. Gun in his chest, questioned where he is headed, Han tells Greedo “I was just going to see your boss. Tell Jabba I’ve got his money.” This statement not only sets the tone and trajectory for Han and Greedo’s tense discussion, which leads to the moment Han shoots Greedo, but it also introduces us to Jabba and establishes how we are to think about this new, mysterious figure. Without needing to see him in the flesh, it is apparent this “Jabba” is a powerful criminal boss – one with enough wealth to hire bounty hunters – and that his form of  justice is simple: if you cross him, there are repercussions. Just as the real villains in The Godfather are those who betray the Corleone family, those who would betray Jabba are his villains, and Han has clearly done something to make Jabba angry.

So what did Han do to cross Jabba? We learn from the conversation that Han dumped a shipment he was smuggling for the crime lord when he ran into an Imperial cruiser. Explaining to Greedo that he had no choice, that “Even I get boarded sometimes,” Greedo responds by saying Han can “tell that to Jabba.” Are we to believe this Jabba would care that Han dumped his shipment before he was boarded? Absolutely not! Solo’s decision to dump the cargo was clearly out of self-preservation, Han looking out for Han. The thing is, Jabba isn’t concerned about Han or his safety, Jabba is only concerned with his own self-interests, and since that cargo belonged to the gangster, Han must pay the consequences for his betrayal. And as we know, Han does “pay” when he ends up frozen in carbonite and used as Jabba’s favorite decoration in the Hutt’s palace on Tatooine.  A cruel punishment, but under the auspices of Hutt justice, an entirely fair one.

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Han Solo, frozen in carbonite, hands on the wall in Jabba’s Palace.

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Knowing that Han was wanted by a mysterious crime lord was always one of the most compelling aspects of the Original Trilogy, a sub-plot that runs through the first two movies, and finally culminates in the first act of Return of the Jedi. From the very beginning, this sub-plot helped to establish one of the most important backdrops to the Star Wars galaxy: the criminal underworld. 

Journey to the Underworld

From his first mention in A New Hope to his death in Return of the Jedi, Jabba is the very center of this underworld, its heart and soul. Sure, there are a handful of other vile characters in the Original Trilogy- like Ponda Baba and Dr. Evazan who threaten Luke in the Mos Eisley Cantina- but no one on the same level as Jabba.

What really stands out about Jabba and his role in establishing the criminal underworld is that we learn next to nothing about his questionable dealings in the Original Trilogy. While we know Han was hired to smuggle some type of illegal cargo, it is never stated what that cargo actually was. Then again, it doesn’t even matter what it was, all that matters is that it belonged to the Hutt. Jabba’s unwillingness to let even his best smuggler get away with this one act is all it takes to establish Jabba as an unforgiving mob boss, and the underworld as a ruthless and dangerous place to inhabit.

In turn, this underworld is symbolically represented in Return of the Jedi by Jabba’s palace on Tatooine. A dark, dimly lit place with strange sounds and vicious creatures, one must literally descend into the palace depths to have an audience with the Hutt. Upon entering the throne room, one finds the Hutt reclined and smoking hookah, a Sultan enjoying his opulent lifestyle as Baroque-style music plays in the background. With his majordomo Bib Fortuna at his side, and surrounded by a court of henchmen, bounty hunters, slaves, droids, and loyal subjects, there is no doubt that Jabba is the King of the this criminal underworld.

Hutt Hookah
Jabba the Hutt sits on his throne and smokes hookah.

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Of course, this underworld has since grown larger than it was in the Original Trilogy – thanks in large part to the Expanded Universe – becoming a realm inhabited by an endless line-up of other Hutts, small time criminals, marauding pirates, bounty hunters, and other villainous beings. There are crime organizations of all types – syndicates, death gangs, cartels, shadow armies – some having power and influence similar to Jabba and the  Hutt Clan. A number of these organizations have also gained prodigious popularity among Star Wars fans (Black Sun, Kanjiklub, Death Watch), while certain criminals/gang leaders have become equally popular (Prince Xizor, Hondo Ohnaka). Plus, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that one bounty hunter has also received god-like status among fans (Boba Fett), while another is closing in on divinity (Cad Bane).

Yet, at the end of the day, all of these individuals and organizations, even those that I absolutely love with an intense passion, just cannot compare to Jabba the Hutt. Jabba will always be the the Don Corleone, the original gangster of Star Wars, a figure whose iconic stature towers over all other underworld characters. However, this shouldn’t be taken to mean that Jabba’s influence within Star Wars cannot be surpassed by another, especially following his death in Return of the Jedi.

The thing is, in my mind there is really only one character who could effectively replace the King of the underworld, who could rebuild his vast criminal empire and become a force equal to the late gangster – Jabba’s son, Rotta.

But I’ll discuss him in another post.


Check out these other Hutt Week posts:

The Imperial Talker Presents: Hutt Week

Hutt Week: “Cute” Jabba the Hutt Merchandise (by Jenmarie from Anakin and His Angel)

Jabba the (CGI) Hutt

Why Ziro’s  My Hero (by Andrew – @AndrewinBelfast)

A Man in Debt to a Hutt (by Michael Miller)

Hutt Haiku Poems

The Hutts of Mataou

Hutt Profile: Gardulla

Heir to a Criminal Empire

Hutt Week: A Conclusion